Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Poetry (PTY)

The first poem I ever wrote was as a 2nd grader, and to date it has been the only one I ever had published in print (the local newspaper)!

When it comes to writing poetry, I am a hot and cold, on again and off again. It is usually during my most trying and painful times that I have written poetry. I have had two great “spurts”: the years 1994-97 (high school and just after) and 2004-05 (after pulling out of seminary). To date, I have written about 56 poems.

Although I have used different styles, I have most frequently made use of the “St. Onge sonnet” – three stanzas of four lines each, the first and third lines each with eight syllables and rhyming with each other, the second and fourth lines each with six syllables and rhyming with each other, and the fourth stanza being two lines of ten syllables each and of course rhyming as well. Even when using a different style, it usually remains somewhat similar to this.

Reflections (REF): Personal and General

Two of the things that stand out about me when people get to know me is (a) the love I have for “my baby” (huge, eight-cylinder, gas-guzzling, beige-coloured, dinted and rusted in spots, ’83 Buick Lesabre) and (b) my “palm pilot”, aka disposable notepad.

I go through a new one (notepad, not car) about once a month. In my notepad, I write and keep many things, the first of which is a list of things I have to do and people I have to see or contact. I also keep an “active list” of phone numbers and addresses in the back of my notepad (those I will need for quick reference for a particular reason or from time to time in the short term), prayer intentions, and other bits of useful info. If I think of something I have to do, or a new Facebook status update, I whip out my pad and write it down.

The other thing I use it for is to jot down the occasional “deep thought” or “reflection” or “insight” I have or receive when praying or just living life. Over time, I have built up quite a few of these “Reflections”, and have categorized them (ie. “Mass / Communion”, “Pride / Humility”, etc.). From there, they get transferred to separate Word documents (according to category) on the computer and then torn out and discarded. I must say that this is the most tedious part – second only to organizing them all in a coherent and structured fashion! Although I frequently do the former (and the longer I leave it the more tedious it is), I very seldomly do the latter, and this makes it difficult when I am scrolling through looking for various reflections that I might need at a particular time or to deal with a particular situation. Eventually, I will turn this into a manuscript, so the more I do now the less I will have to do then. But although the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.

I also write numerous emails and, get this, “letters” to various friends and others, and some of them are rather lengthy. This is because all of my correspondences double as journal entries. I currently have four binders full of “journal entries”, and I will soon be starting my fifth.

Apologetics (APS)

After my “re-version”, I was craving fellowship, and I ended up joining IVCF – an Evangelical Protestant organization. At the time I was rather ignorant of the differences between Catholic and Protestant, so when I began hearing things that were strange to my Catholic ears, such as “the unsaved” or “accept Christ as Lord and Savior” or “sovereign God”, I went to the Newman Center, where the campus minister (and later my good friend) Louise educated me on a few things and also directed me to the Center library.

The first book I read was Catholic and Christian by Alan Schreck and Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating. This is when my passion for writing was applied to apologetics. There began four failed attempts at writing an apologetics work, until I finally succeeded in (a) writing something original and sufficiently non-plagiarized, (b) actually completing the work, and (c) finding satisfaction in that completed work. The previous attempts lacked one or more of these.

My reading later “expanded” past apologetics as did my interests. However, it played a huge role in my catechesis, and I still find it useful in many ways and in many situations.

Art (ART): Religious Connections and "Exegeses"

I received a sharp rebuke a number of years back from my seminary classmate and good friend, (now Fr.) Francesco. We attended a movie called ”The Pianist” on the recommendation (and on the dime) of our class formator, Monsignor Lyons. After the movie, Francesco was reflecting deeply upon certain parts, and I sat there with a confused look on my face. That began a discussion, and when I replied “for entertainment” to Francesco’s question, “Why do you go to movies”, I received a lecture.

I was upset at the time, but now I’m the one who gives that lecture! Well, not really. I just prefer to watch movies with others whom I can have the kind of conversation with that I could not give Francesco years earlier.

I have come to love the arts. Unfortunately, I tend to sometimes get so attentive to the spiritual meaning behind everything that I fail to take in and enjoy it for its beauty. Hmmm, come to think of it – that would have been a nice comeback to Fr. Francesco’s lecture! Not that he was incorrect – but a nice, healthy balance is key.

I will be posting many of my artistic “exegeses” (as I like to call them) here.

Liturgy (LIT): Reflections, Insights, and Exegeses

I always enjoyed Mass, even though I didn’t really understand what was going on, and even though I complained sometimes about having to go. But as my dad always reminded me, “God gives you 168 hours a week, you should be able to give him 1 back”. Not much I could say in response to that. I always felt “at home” and secure in church, and it also had somewhat of a “heavenly” feel.

Today, I get the same sense and feel when I enter a church as I did when I was young. Every time I drive through a town when on road trips, I instinctually look around in an attempt to locate the Catholic Church, and if I have the time, I like to pull in and check to see if the doors are open so I can “check it out” and say a few quick prayers. Have you ever noticed that every church seems to have its own distinctive smell? I can almost tell what church I am in just by the smell.

After my reversion, I soon developed two liturgical loves: (a) Daily Mass, and (b) the Tridentine Mass. I remember when I went to my first Tridentine Mass – I didn’t have a clue what was going on, but I loved it. I guess you can say it felt like I was “at home”, and that it had a “heavenly” feel.

But I have also become more attuned to seeing the Mass and the “heavenly” in the every day. And when I go to Mass, I bring the “everyday” with me. These “connections” help me to make the Mass the true “source and summit” of my life, and enable me to “put more in” when I do attend and assist.

Some of these reflections and insights will be posted.

Scripture (SCR): Reflections, Insights, and Exegeses

I always did have a love for the Bible. As my mother reminds me, when I was young I used to sit on the floor and read our big Catholic Family Bible. My grandmother would see this and remark, “Oh, I think Wade is going to be a priest someday!” [And she was almost right]. But in reality, I think more than anything I liked the prints of famous paintings of biblical scenes and persons and often looked at the artwork rather than read the text.

In later elementary school, I turned into even more of a nerd and recorded in my notebook all the laws of the Pentateuch and codified them. These were the days when I had my parents drop me off at the public library every Saturday so I could spend my day reading books off the shelves. Funny enough, I never did get beat up in school - probably because I was enough of a jock to earn the respect of the would-be bullies.

After my “re-version”, I for some reason took the position that the Bible was for the most part a waste of a Christian reader’s time, since there were so many other great Catholic books from the Saints and other Doctors and modern authors to read! The Gospels were still good reading, but not essential because we had the Catechism, which took everything that was important and put it into a systematic order.

By the time I got to seminary, I realized the Bible was more valuable than that. But I still only used it for proof-texting. It was only after I began taking Masters courses in Scripture that I realized the Bible was truly “the Word of God” – cover to cover – and that it was the Spirit speaking to me when I read. Now, I am one of the few Catholics who actually brings his Bible to Mass!

My “principles” of interpretation and Scripture reading will be posted at a later date. I will also be posting various Scriptural exegeses and Biblical insights from my time in reading and praying Scripture and through my time in lectio divina.